How to Pinch Back Petunias


Petunias are among the most popular of annual garden plants. Raised in garden beds, planters, containers and hanging baskets, petunias add color and interest to the landscape. The fast growth rate of the plant can lead its stems becoming long and leggy. The best way to prevent this is to pinch the stems back. This forces the plant to branch, creating a bushier and more attractive appearance. Flowers can also be pinched back, when finished blooming, to encourage the plant to produce more blossoms.

Step 1

Pinch each stem of the plant back to around 4 inches when you first plant it. This will encourage the stems to sprout flowering side shoots lower on the plant and create a fuller, bushier form.

Step 2

Grasp a stem between your forefinger and thumb. Apply firm pressure while bending the stem slightly until it separates.

Step 3

Remove dead and faded flowers by pinching them back to the stem. This procedure, often referred to as deadheading, will prevent the petunia from going to seed and encourage it to bloom further.

Step 4

Pinch each stem to around 4 inches long once the first blooming has completely finished. This will rejuvenate the plant and encourage the stems to branch and bloom again in a few weeks.


  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Petunias
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Petunias
  • Oregon State University Extension Service: How to Keep Petunias From Becoming Bedraggled
Keywords: pinch petunias, pinch back petunias, deadhead petunias

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In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with almost a decade of experience as a Navy Hospital Corpsman and licensed paramedic and more than 15 years writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that include medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.